Tuesday, March 8, 2022 4:43 pm
By Sule Abubakar Lucky Mark
As a Nigerian, who lives in this British contraption dubbed Nigeria, when you gain admission into any of the Nigerian higher institutions of learning, your joy becomes indescribable. There’s this aura of confidence that permeates your entire soul because, if you check very well, there’s this undisclosed respect that comes from being called a ‘university student’. And if you’ve heard about the most-talked-about campus life, the (un)healthy academic competition, the lively sociability and all the things that make the university to be erroneously regarded as a “paradise of golden beaches,” you’ll think that your university’s life will be a smooth journey.
Ironically, all that we were told and had envisaged about university violated our expectations. University is not a fairyland; it’s a deadly haven! Normally, when you resume, you’re supposed to face university’s teething troubles like trying to adapt to your new environment, finding some courses beyond your comprehension, a barrage of assignments, hunger, etc. These are the teething troubles I assume do characteristically happen on the university campus. Alas! All was a child’s play when compared to the prevailing academic realities in Nigerian universities.
For instance, when I gained admission before I could even resume, I was already depressed! When I eventually resumed, the rigours that comes with the rigidity, the austerity, the authoritarianism, and the inhumanities of the Nigerian educational system emaciated all of us physically, and we were psychologically and emotionally deflated too! Should we talk about those lecturers who bunk off school? Or those that intentionally want to be cruel to their students? Should we talk about the laxity and unprofessionalism of some lecturers, Deans, HoDs, and even Professors?!
Could we also talk about the Nigerian Federal Government’s lackadaisicalness towards the educational system and her students? What about the poor remunerations from the federal government to the university lecturers? What even about the poor, inadequate funding of the university system? What about the lack of basic educational facilities? In all of this, we, the students, feel the brunt of the situation!
Another plight of the Nigerian students is the seemingly irreconcilable conflict between the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) and the federal government of Nigeria, which has caused irreparable paralysis of the Nigerian educational system! ASUU’s strike has become a recurring decimal in the chessboard of the Nigerian educational system, and students’ years at school are elongated. Courses of 4 years span to 8, 9, and 10 years! After all these protracted delays at school, and you eventually graduate, you’ll be dealt with another deadly blow in the labour market again because the delays might have caused you to advance in your chronological age. Some companies won’t employ you because you’re above 30 years! I call it “Age Discrimination.”
Moreover, we pay for house rents, but we are not always around to occupy those houses. Some landlords/landladies are not even considered. If your house rent expires—even though you didn’t use the house because of the strike, and it’s then due for renewal again—you’ll be asked to do it immediately or you face outright eviction. That’s what we face.
Furthermore, another destabilising plight of the Nigerian students is that this perennial pandemic called strike demoralises us. It deflates us psychologically and emotionally. If, for instance, you are in fine form, and your school embarks on a strike, you’ll be clearly out of form because the astonishing velocity with which you paddle your academic canoe has shuddered to a halt. The strike has an unimaginably demoralising effect on us.
The list of our plights is endless. We can’t say everything here. Our motherland kills us every day, in different aspects of life. We are promising chicks, but our mother hen doesn’t watch over. She doesn’t cater for us. We are vulnerable chicks in our motherland. Our mother hen looks helplessly as the deadly hawk swoops down to attack us. Nigeria is the mother hen; the citizens are the vulnerable chicks!
Today, I beseech both the members of the Federal Government of Nigeria and those of ASUU to bring permanent rapprochement to our educational system. We don’t have the might to study abroad, and we also don’t have the wherewithal to go to private universities, so help us to “manage” the public universities. Dear Nigerian leaders, help us; for the future of your “leaders of tomorrow” dims in the theatre of hopelessness!